Common Dayflower

Media
Photo of common dayflower flower and buds.
Safety Concerns
Name
Edible
Scientific Name
Commelina communis
Family
Commelinaceae (spiderworts)
Description

Common dayflower is an herbaceous annual plant that sprawls along the ground like a vine, often rooting at the nodes. Flowers last for only a day, emerging from a boatlike sheath, one at a time. There are 3 petals: 2 large blue petals above, plus 1 much smaller white or greenish-white petal below. There are 6 stamens (the male parts): 3 on short stems are sterile (these are called staminodes), and 3 on longer stems produce pollen. Blooms May-October. Leaves alternate, clasping the stem, narrowly ovate to lance-shaped.

Similar species: There are 4 more dayflowers in the genus Commelina recorded in Missouri. They have similar characteristics.

Common Name Synonyms
Asiatic Dayflower
Size
Height: 1–2 feet.
Where To Find
image of Common Dayflower Asiatic Dayflower distribution map
Statewide.
This species of dayflower is native to eastern Asia and has been introduced nearly worldwide. It occurs in disturbed soils near waterways, ditches, low woods, bottomlands, waste places, cultivated fields, gardens, near dwellings, and moist roadsides and railroad embankments.
Dayflowers and spiderworts are in the same family. Most of the 600 to 700 species in the Commelinaceae are tropical or subtropical. You are probably familiar with houseplants called “wandering Jews” that have all-purple or purple-striped leaves, juicy stems, and a sprawling habit similar to dayflower. The flowers of wandering Jews have three equal petals, though, and they’re in the same genus as spiderworts.
A fast-growing but shallow-rooted weed that annoys gardeners, but a few people cultivate it as an ornamental. In Asia, it is cooked and eaten as a green vegetable. In the 18th and 19th centuries, blue pigment from the flowers was used to color many of Japan’s famous woodblock prints.
Bees and other insects visit the flowers, which lack nectar; they are attracted in part by the showy yellow, though sterile, staminodes. Other insects eat the foliage, which deer and other mammals relish as well.
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Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!